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Blood disease cases up 760% in last 20 years but 'miracle drug' now approved

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Sufferers of a blood disease whose numbers are soaring are being helped by a miracle drug. There were 48 cases of sickle cell disease in Scotland in 2005 but the most recent figures show numbers have risen to 413 – a rise of 760 per cent in less than 20 years.The Scottish Medicines Consortium has now approved the use of the new drug voxelotor on the NHS, which is hoped will bring huge improvements to the lives of sufferers.

Sickle cell disease causes sufferers’ red blood cells to be shaped like sickles or crescent moons, making it harder to carry oxygen around the body.The cells also become rigid and sticky, which can slow or block blood flow.

It leaves sufferers with chronic anaemia and episodes of crippling pain called crises, which can be life-threatening.In hospital they are given strong painkillers such as morphine to control the pain, intravenous therapy and antibiotics.

Some need regular blood transfusions. The inherited disease originally affected those of African descent but it has now been found in all races.Daniella Williams, 24, whose parents are ­Nigerian, described the pain as ­“stabbing yourself with a fork, then someone drags it up and down while someone jabs you with a knife covered in poison and the poison spreads”.

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